Five key directors and managers have quit Travel 2/Gold Medal to join trade only luxury operator If Only.
Managing director Andy Freeth, sales and marketing director Gordon McCreadie, product and commercial director Matt Appleby, head of sales Tracy Hirsz and business manager for Travel 2 David Irving, all left the dnata-owned long-haul brands on Monday.
All five are joining If Only, which, like Travel 2, is based in Glasgow, and are on varying periods of gardening leave before they can assume their new roles.
Freeth will become chief executive of If Only in December 2017, while the other four will start in September. The 100% trade-focused operator is planning to increase its sales three-fold with the new team on board.
Divisional senior vice president of dnata Travel Services Iain Andrew confirmed the departures, saying the five were “leaving to pursue other options”.
He confirmed: “We are in the process of appointing their replacements. Paul Smith, our Finance Director B2B Europe, will act as CEO in the interim.”
Iain Andrew added: “Our team remains committed to providing our customers the excellent service levels they are accustomed to receiving.
“dnata Travel’s B2B division has built a strong and healthy foundation over the years to offer an almost unmatched depth and breadth of products and expertise.”
Iain Andrew confirmed agent partners remained a priority for the business, saying: “We will continue to invest in developing our trade business in the UK, as we move into the next exciting stage of our evolution.”
If Only founder and managing director Brendan Maguire meanwhile said his new appointments were being made to support an ambitious expansion plan.
For the year to March 2017, If Only’s turnover, was £25 million. It has an Atol licence for just under 8,000.
Maguire, who will become chairman in the shake-up, confirmed he had taken on no external investment to fuel the expansion plans, which include moving into new destinations and sectors.
Maguire said If Only has traditionally only offered only eastern long-haul destinations like the Far East and Arabia, but the “tremendously successful” launch into Australasia last autumn had given him the confidence to now “look west to the Caribbean, North America, Canada and South America”.
He is also looking to grow If Only’s cruise and private touring business.
Maguire said: “Following the sustained growth in our established destinations, the successful launch of our Australasia programme last year and repeated requests from agents to expand our portfolio into other parts of the world, we decided this is the right time to expand, while still retaining If Only’s core values of quality service, in-depth product knowledge and competitive pricing.
“I’m delighted to bring in the new recruits to join our already well-established team. With Andy’s passion for supporting agents and his renowned industry experience, I can’t think of a more capable CEO to make all this happen.”
He confirmed that his current six on the road business development managers would now report into sales and marketing director McCreadie. Appleby will become product and commercial director, Hirsz will become business development director and Irving will become head of specialist businesses.
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